Nick and I took two weeks over the Easter holidays to travel around the Iberian Peninsula – one of our favourite parts of Europe. While we’ve been there several times before, there are still plenty of more out-of-the-way sights and towns in the region left to explore. As this trip was to focus mostly on parts of Spain and Portugal that we had not seen before, like the Extremadura in Spain, we treated Madrid as a sort of jumping-off point and gave ourselves only one night in the city. I knew that there were a number of highly-acclaimed vegan and vegetarian restaurants there, so choosing just one was going to be difficult.
Ultimately, we settled on Vega – a cozy little all-vegan tapas bar and restaurant in Madrid’s Malasana district. Since Nick really likes making (and eating) tapas, it sounded like something we would both enjoy. And boy, was it ever!
Since I wanted to try as many different things on the menu as possible, we started with an aperitivo platter of fried almonds, cucumbers in a spicy sambal and peanut sauce and escalibada – a typical Spanish dish of roasted eggplant and red peppers. My favourite was the almonds, though all were tasty and definitely left me wanting more.
We then shared three different tapas: mushroom croquetas; tomato carpaccio with arugula, truffle oil and cashew pesto; and focaccia topped with marinated eggplant, peppers and mushrooms.
The tomato carpaccio was nice enough, though when used to describe tomatoes the word “carpaccio” is basically just a fancy-sounding term for tomato salad. The focaccia, though, was fabulous, and I don’t even have words to describe the croquetas! Crispy on the outside but so soft and creamy on the inside. There were six croquetas in one order, and they came with a little spoonful of a creamy white sauce that was just divine. I only wish there had been more of it! It was a real treat to be able to try a vegan version of this common Spanish dish, which is sometimes vegetarian but never vegan. Though as it turns out, during our trip through Spain we came across a couple other vegetarian restaurants that offered vegan croquetas, and you better believe I never missed an opportunity to gobble these babies up.
For dessert, Nick went for the apple crumble, which was delicious and very cinnamony, if a tad on the small side.
I was planning to get the same, until the waiter said that the dessert of the day was vegan blueberry cheesecake. Hold the phone!
I’ve always LOVED cheesecake, but I’ve only had it once since I became vegan. Well, let’s just say that, after that slice, my next mission in life has become to learn how to make a vegan cheesecake. The consistency was exactly the way I remembered it being, thick and able to stand up on its own, with a kind of flaky texture. I do make an effort to control my “sweet tooth”, which, let’s face it, is just a euphemism for sugar addiction, and I’ve come a long way in this department. But on the rare occasions when we eat out at a place that offers a vegan dessert, you can bet I’m going to indulge.
I’ll be posting lots more from the Iberian Peninsula over the coming weeks, so get ready to say ¡Hola! to lots of delicious vegan food!